Rethinking the Western Understanding of the Self

Rethinking the Western Understanding of the Self

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Ulrich Steinvorth
Cambridge University Press, 8/27/2009
EAN 9780521757072, ISBN10: 052175707X

Paperback, 230 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
Language: English

Ulrich Steinvorth offers a fresh analysis and critique of rationality as a defining element in Western thinking. Steinvorth argues that Descartes' understanding of the self offers a more plausible and realistic alternative to the prevailing understanding of the self formed by the Lockean conception and utilitarianism. When freed from Cartesian dualism, such a conceptualization enables us to distinguish between self and subject. Moreover, it enables us to understand why individualism – one of the hallmarks of modernity in the West – became a universal ideal to be granted to every member of society; how acceptance of this notion could peak in the seventeenth century; and why it is now in decline, though not irreversibly so. Most importantly, the Cartesian concept of the self presents a way of saving modernity from the dangers that it now encounters.

Part I. Introduction
1. The West and the self
Part II. Basics of Philosophical Psychology
2. Heideggerian and Cartesian self
3. Free will
4. Cartesian, Lockean and Kantian self
5. Extraordinariness and the two stages of rationality
Part III. The Cartesian Self in History
6. The cause and content of modernity
7. The second-stage rationality in history
8. Economic rationality
9. The Cartesian self in the 20th century
Part IV. Value Spheres
10. A diagnosis and therapy for modernity
11. Value spheres defined and the state
12. The serving spheres
13. Technology
14. Utilitarian or Cartesian approach
15. The media and other professions
16. Science
17. Art and religion
18. Sport
19. Latin and absolute love
Part V. A Self-Understanding Not Only for the West
20. Liberty and equality
21. Harnessing extraordinariness
22. Cartesian modernity
23. The undivided universally developed individual
24. The end of history?